Tuesday 23 January 2018

Kerry boss not bothered by tradition - Ó Flatharta

Tomas O Flatharta, Laois manager. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Tomas O Flatharta, Laois manager. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Kerry are widely regarded as the aristocrats of Gaelic football but Tomás Ó Flatharta doesn't see Eamonn Fitzmaurice getting bogged down in tradition and expects him to do whatever it takes to dethrone reigning champions Dublin in Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final.

Such are the changing demands of the modern game, Kerry have been forced to abandon their traditional 15-on-15 style of play in some instances with 2014's All-Ireland final against Donegal springing to mind.

Although they were said to be in transition, Fitzmaurice helped the Kingdom claim an unlikely Sam Maguire triumph by filtering players behind the ball to mimic Donegal's system and Ó Flatharta can envisage something similar this time. "I think for Eamonn Fitzmaurice he doesn't care about the Kerry pure football style or the Kerry tradition. I think he'll have to set his team up in the way that they can perform properly and win the game. That's what they'll be aiming for," the Kerry native says.

"If it does mean crowding out his defence a bit to stop these wonderful Dublin forwards, I think he will do that. I wouldn't like to see Colm Cooper back in defence like he was in the All-Ireland final last year though or James O'Donoghue back there.


"Maybe some of their half-forwards might have to drop a bit alright. Donnchadh Walsh may have to drop back. But you certainly wouldn't like to see Darran O'Sullivan and the boys that I've mentioned back there."

Dublin were careering towards back-to-back titles in 2014 before being stunned by Donegal, who opened up their defence in a manner which no side has since replicated with Jim Gavin learning some valuable lessons.

His deployment of defender Cian O'Sullivan as a minder of the house has been one of the rocks which last year's All-Ireland win was built upon and the former Laois manager feels he needs to be kept occupied.

"One of the things that Kerry need to look at is Cian O'Sullivan. I think they need to keep Cian busy," Ó Flatharta said of his Kilmacud Crokes clubmate.

"Teams are playing into Dublin's hands by the guy that's supposed to be marked by Cian O'Sullivan, he drops back into the defence which leaves Cian to cover his full-back line all the time.

"One way of dealing with that is by putting the likes of Darran O'Sullivan on Cian, where he's going to keep him busy, running around him and dragging him away from the full-back line."

Elsewhere, Tyrone boss Mickey Harte is expected to remain in charge until 2018 after requesting a one-year contract extension.

Irish Independent

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